That didn’t take long

Back at blogging for only a couple of days and already someone has destroyed another cognitive dissonance meter.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, [Permanent Secretary for Tax at HMRC] Dave Hartnett says that householders have a duty to ensure that other people do not evade paying their share of tax.
Paying a builder or cleaner in cash, allowing them to evade VAT or income tax, will result in even deeper government cuts to public services, he says. People who contribute to the cash economy cannot then complain about austerity measures, he adds.
“Tax provides the funding to run the country: hospitals, schools and everything else,” he says. “Every time someone pays cash in order not to pay VAT, the nation gets diddled.”

Oh, is that so, Dave? Well, do tell us how you’d describe the state’s regular spunking away of billions of pounds on unnecessary shit, necessary shit that’s overpriced and doesn’t work properly, quangos, clampdowns on victimless crimes, subs for EU membership and more recently the use of taxpayers’ money to prop up private companies which through their own mistakes should naturally have gone to the wall. Plus the interest payments needed because all that on top of the cost of actual public services comes to rather more money than you can raise through tax anyway.

And while you’re scratching for an apt description – you could use ‘diddled’ again though I’d suggest ‘fucking ripped off’ – you might also tell us how you’d describe coercively taking half of what people earn, much of it before they’ve even get their own hands on it in the case of those on PAYE and under threat of violence for those doing returns, with no better justification than a vague assertion that you’ll be handing it over – minus that needed for your ≈£160K salary and £1.7M pension that you’ll be retiring several years early to enjoy, natch – to people who at best have vague good intentions to spend it in ways that benefit those from whom it was forcefully taken. ‘A sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces’ is one oft repeated description, though I don’t see what’s wrong with something like ‘legalised theft’. No doubt you’d call that ‘duty’ (badoom tish!) as well, eh, Dave?


17 comments for “That didn’t take long

  1. January 27, 2012 at 8:43 am

    Paying a builder or cleaner in cash, allowing them to evade VAT or income tax, will result in even deeper government cuts to public services, he says.

    Good. I’ll be sure to do that, then.

    • January 27, 2012 at 9:00 am


    • January 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm

      Sounds good to me too.

    • January 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm

      Treating it as official HMRC guidance? Bwahahahahahaahah. Nice one.

      • January 28, 2012 at 7:01 am


  2. wiggiatlarge
    January 27, 2012 at 9:02 am

    The man who nodded through the “sweetheart” deal on Vodaphone and others and lost us millions if not billions of tax and the interest as well ,good man to have running HMRC ,but of course retiring early will keep him out of the limelight and no doubt a knighthood will follow for services to whatever they can think of.

    • Mudplugger
      January 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Trouble is, they’re replacing the awful Hartnett with the even-more-abysmal Lin Homer – check out her record of (in)competence in every job she’s had and then ‘SweetHartnett’ may start to look like he was a relatively good deal !
      I don’t know what dirt Homer has on someone powerful, or what she’s been doing for someone powerful, but it’s still working for her.

  3. Dave G
    January 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I’d love to add a ‘pithy’ comment but Angry Exile has done such a good job that this post stands on its own merits.

    Well said Sir….

    • January 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm


  4. John
    January 27, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    What our mastermind in charge of HMRC fails to acknowledge is that it’s normally the case that these case transactions can be done a good bit cheaper.

    But I don’t expect a lifetime civil servant would understand trying to do a deal to save yourself some money.

    • January 28, 2012 at 7:49 am

      That’s because as far as they are concerned, money grows on trees and if the leaves fall off, they get out the shotgun and start knocking on doors.

  5. Rossa
    January 28, 2012 at 11:43 am

    “Paying a builder or cleaner in cash, allowing them to evade VAT or income tax, will result in even deeper government cuts to public services, he says.”

    Most sole traders don’t earn more than the VAT threshold of 73k anyway so that assertion is absolute rubbish. I had a kitchen and bathroom done by a joiner, plumber, tiler, decorator and sparky and none of them charged VAT. Which is perfectly legit.

    And funny how he overlooks the fact that even cash will be spent on food, fuel and other items where there is duty and VAT i.e. indirect taxation anyway. So any income after tax is always taxed again multiple times. Must be the first thing any bod at HMRC learns…there are many ways to skin a cat. (with apologies to my 3)

    • Ed P
      January 28, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      The point is surely avoidance of income tax for cash trades, not VAT.

      I’m grateful to this useful idiot Hartnett for pointing out that we must all do more to help stop government waste – always pay traders in cash whenever possible.

    • Mudplugger
      January 28, 2012 at 9:29 pm

      It’s quite difficult for a full-time sole-trader to make a living whilst staying below the VAT threshold because it’s based on turnover, not profit.
      So everything he spends buying equipment, materials, fuel for his van, his phone bill etc. all goes into the amount passing through his books (officially).
      However, I’m told that many sole-traders who need to buy expensive components (bulk building material, bathroom suites, car-body panels, electricals etc.) get the customer to pay the trade supplier directly, thus keeping those large items off their official turnover.
      Not sure how SweetHartnett thinks he can stop that – as long as there’s a VAT-free threshold, there will be workarounds.
      The answer is to abolish the threshold, so that all traders must charge VAT, then VAT could come down for everything. But, of course, it won’t – the EU won’t allow that.

      • January 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm

        Jeebus! That would mean that I would have to charge VAT. Even more pettifogging bureaucracy to deal with. No thanks.

        • Mudplugger
          January 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

          But it’s all the rates, thresholds and the exemptions which cause most of that pettifogging bureaucracy in the first place.
          If VAT was on absolutely everything and at the same rate (e.g 10%), there would be no need for all the ‘Jaffa Cake’ definition nonsense and trader exemptions, which actually generate all the bureaucracy. But the EU won’t allow that.
          I’ve been VAT-registered and it took me no more than 30 minutes every quarter – thus simplified, it would be even less than that.

  6. January 28, 2012 at 11:47 am

    The comment from the parasitical sod would carry some weight IF the government ever lived within its means WHICH it never does. The amount that the government robs from us in taxation makes no real difference to what the government spunks away. It will always spend more than it has.

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